Thank you to all OSEA members who advocated for our OSEA priorities to the Joint Committee on Ways and Means during their biennial “road show”. Meetings were convened in Portland, Newport, Roseburg, Ontario and Salem over the month of April. OSEA members sent over 2,100 individual testimony, letters and emails to advocate for full K-12 funding for the 2023 to 2025 school years, and OSEA’s top legislative priorities in the Ways and Means Committee, including Just Cause for all classified staff, a 20% differential for special education (SPED) staff, five-hour minimum work days for SPED staff, and a workgroup to look at statewide education staff salaries.
On Monday, May 22, Oregon legislative leadership announced the budgets for the State School Fund (SSF), early learning and literacy success. The budget includes a $10.2 billion investment into the SSF, the most ever allocated and $700 million above the current service level.
The 2023 legislative session has hosted a challenging budget discussion as lawmakers grappled with transitioning core services for economically fragile working families while the federal COVID-19 relief funding ends.
“It was a worthwhile process to participate in the Ways and Means meeting in Roseburg. It was really important for me to hear all of the worth causes that need Oregon investments, but it looks like legislative leadership heard us in a time when we need it most. Oregon schools will only get the money they need if we advocate for it,” said Susan Hardy, ROSE secretary/treasurer and member of the Oakridge School Board.
OSEA champions, like chairs of House and Senate Education Committees, Rep. Courtney Neron (D-Wilsonville, Sherwood, King City, Tigard/Bull Mountain and Parrett Mountain) and Sen. Michael Dembrow (D-Portland), kept K-12 funding at the top of mind for legislators beyond the Ways and Means Committee.
“Stable funding is critical to a strong K-12 education. As a teacher, I know first-hand that achieving this level of investment means the world to educators and their students,” said Rep. Neron. “This set of investments gives educators the tools they need to deliver quality educational opportunities.
In addition to K-12 funding, the presiding officers also announced a $140 million investment in Oregon’s Early Literacy and Success budget. This funding will prioritize reading and writing proficiency for elementary school students and address historic disparities for under-served students by:
- Supporting educators with training and coaching to get the best possible outcomes for students
- Providing literacy support for students from birth through third grade
- Ensuring all Oregon schools are able to offer culturally aligned, research-aligned, student- and family-centered literacy curricula and making curricula and materials available
- Funding summer and after school/extended learning programs to help underserved students meet their full potential
- Investing in targeted, accelerated tutoring for underserved students to help them meet their goals
The June revenue forecast demonstrated the Legislature has chosen to invest directly in programs that are proven to uplift Oregon’s students and their communities.
“We are taking steps in these budgets to help students access and succeed in higher education, whether in universities or in career and technical education,” said Sen. Dembrow. “We need to make sure our students are prepared for their futures, and these investments will continue us on that path.”
Despite the ongoing Senate Republican walkout, legislators have collaborated on an unprecedented budget that will help all Oregonians. OSEA will continue to give you updates as more information comes available regarding the education budget, possible special sessions, and timing of the 2022 to 2025 biennium. If you haven’t had the chance to join us yet, sign up for OSEA’s Government Relations Update Group (GRUP!)’s biweekly meetings.